This will surprise all who know Russia

The aircraft hit a snowplough as it took off shortly after midnight and crashed – killing all on board – as it attempted to return for an emergency landing. The snowplough driver also died. Russian investigators have since discovered that the driver was “in a state of alcoholic intoxication” at the time of the crash.

I’ve been known to like a drink myself and even, whisper it, to reach certain states of inebriation. But for widespread examples of out and out drunkenness I’ve simply never seen anything at all like Russia. And yes, I have been in the centre of British provincial towns at closing time. That’s the kindergarden league by comparison.

10 comments on “This will surprise all who know Russia

  1. I have visited Russia three times, so I know a little of what you speak (at the age of 15 I was treated to a seven course meal with shots of vodka at each intermission, so I have also been an example of it), but the drunkest drunks I have seen were middle aged Finns who had taken the ferry to Tallin to indulge in cheap booze. And actually dedicated cider drinkers in the less lovely parts of Bristol run a close second.

  2. a bit more detail – showing my age, that 15 year old visit was whilst the Iron curtain was still up, and Intourist had arranged visits to authentic Russian families out in the satellite tower block forests, the mother had I think queued solidly for a week to obtain the ingredients for the meal but they evidently had no idea that 15 year old Brits cannot consume a litre of vodka. Their son seemed convinced Teddy Boys were all the rage in the UK and I am ashamed to say my teenage self did not let him down gently.

  3. YouTube has many entertaining clips from dashboard cameras in Russia illustrating that very fact.

    But remember!!! More than two pints of weak beer in an evening and YOU ARE GOING TO DIE!!!

  4. I’d never even heard of Vnukovo airport until I flew through it a few hours before this crash. I’m in Kazakhstan at the moment, but apparently our office is mobbed with journalists. Could spell some changes in Total.

  5. Rumours a suntanned Brit oil exec was seen plying the plough operator with export Stolly shortly before the incident are totally groundless, then?

  6. > the drunkest drunks I have seen were middle aged Finns who had taken the ferry to Tallin to indulge in cheap booze.

    I was Tallin a few months ago, and saw some Finns in the supermarket fill up 3 suitcases full of vodka (possibly to sell rather than drink, though!)

  7. I still remember a war movie from the ’80s call The Beast about a Russian tank stucked in an enclosed canyon in Afghanistan. One of the joke/situation eluded me until later is that the a good chunk of Russian military hardware’s transmission fluid are alcohol. And the Soviet military didn’t bother to make this fluid toxic to discourage drinking. And the tank driver drank a good chunk of the transmission fluid making the tank’s maneuvering problematic.

  8. And the Soviet military didn’t bother to make this fluid toxic to discourage drinking.

    Actually, they did do something like this – well, unpleasant to the point of undrinkability rather than toxic – Russian drinkers tend not to be bothered about toxic. But they also issued the tanks with water filters to make water drinkable after a nuclear, chemical or biological exchange. You poured the hydraulic fluid through the NBC filter and you got drinkable (for a Russian armoured crewman) booze.

    One of the favourite myths of the whole “Russian hordes screaming across the Inner German Border” era was that the greatest vulnerability to the otherwise inexorable Russian advance to Paris was a German farmer taking out the Divisional vodka supply truck* with a shotgun (or, frankly, anything else.) No vodka? Shortly they’d be drinking the hydraulic fluid and tanks don’t work too well without hydraulic fluid.

    * Okay, a number of German farmers taking out the respective Divisional etc, etc …

  9. Update from BBC News
    “His family insisted he was not drunk. “My client has chronic heart disease, he doesn’t drink at all,” his lawyer Alexander Karabanov told Interfax news agency.”
    Although if he has chronic heart disease what was he doing driving a snowplough at Vnukovo?

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